Mrs. Christie BatureOGBEIFUN, the chief executive officer of 180 Degrees Rehabilitation Centre,Port Harcourt was part of the civil society coalition against child abusetagged, “Anti Child Abuse: Stop the Rapeand Save a Child,“ which held in Port Harcourt June 27, 2019 in response toheightened incidents of child abuse, especially sexual abuse in the state.
National Point’s GiftJonah who was part of the rally that saw activists marching from Isaac BoroPark to the gate of the Rivers State University, Nkpolu Port Harcourt,interviewed Mrs Christie Ogbeifun.
Please introduce yourself and your center
Myname is Mrs. Christie Bature Ogbeifun, I run 180 Degrees Rehabilitation Centrein Port Harcourt. I have been doing this for about 16 years. We were outpatient based until five years ago when we became residential. So we help drugaddicts, sex addicts, trauma patients. We help patients of other forms ofaddiction except food addiction.
You know we are talking about childabuse now in Rivers State.How will you rate the situation?
I won’t have an exact figure but I know that it is terriblyrampant, it is terribly unfertile, and abuse is in many forms.Today we arefocusing more on sexual abuse but there is emotional abuse, there isphysiological abuse, there is financial abuse, there is spiritual abuse, allkinds of abuses than the physical ones too. So I will say the numbers arereally, really high, and part of it is because of the African culture; we aredisciplinarians, nothing wrong with discipline, but I think parents need to betaught how to discipline within the context of discipline and not cross intothe realm of abuse.
So what is the impactof child abuse, especially sexual abuse on the individual male or female?
The effects are many, once a child is molested it constitutes personal trauma and in addition, we talk about three main doorways; one is the society, two is family dysfunction and three is personal trauma.
Any of these will pre-dispose the person to struggling withaddiction in the future. Now you know that most times when a child can be abusedis always indicative that there is family dysfunction. So for most people thetwo are going on at the same time and then they step on the society and thesociety is endorsing what is wrong. So, the child is more or less doomed beforehe/she even has a chance to stand. Sothe effects are terrible, most child molesters, adult child molesters, werethemselves molested as children; this happened to them as children and theygrow up to perpetrate what was done to them in their own adulthood and it canlead to depression,.
It can lead to even criminality, the pain in the soul wouldbe looking for medication and sometimes the medications are drugs, sometimes itis sex, sometimes it is violence. We cannot even begin to pinpoint all thedifferent ways that sexual trauma can affect the person in life. There are toomany possibilities, it can impair educational performance, it can impairintelligence, it definitely would impair emotional intelligence and that is oneof the things they are selling now as the biggest thing in the market place-emotional intelligence. But if you are already stunted emotionally you can’tbring that to the table when you are out in public.
So when can we curethis, how can we address this?
Education, education, education! Awareness, this is a good thing happeninghere today, awareness, awareness, awareness. The law has to come into effect;the law enforcers must enforce the laws that have already been drawn out. Wehave a law against child hawking, don’t you see children hawking? Where are thelaw enforcement agents?Who are the ones that are enforcers of the law? Why arethe laws not enforced? These are some of the reasons these things continuebecause there are no consequences and even if they are, they are very mild orthey come so much after the incident, it is of no effect at all.
#GenderAccountability and Transparency Project (GAP)
ConstanceMeju is publisher of Port Harcourt based National Point Newspaper and Genderand Human Right Justice advocate